BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
When the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in 2002, its founder, Recep Tayyip Erdogan appeared like a devout Muslim seeking to eliminate corruption and improve the standard of living of Turkish citizens.
During the last 13 years, Erdogan gradually turned into a corrupt despot, assuming the airs of a modern-day Ottoman Sultan. Was he a wolf in sheep’s clothing to start with, or was he spoiled by the international community’s blind support and lavish praise? Notably, Pres. Obama had called Erdogan one of five world leaders with whom he felt especially close. Obama and other heads of state have finally realized that the monster they created is out of the bottle and out of control! The primary victim of misplaced trust in Erdogan was none other than Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.
To show how arrogant Erdogan and Turkey’s top leaders have become, here are excerpts from their recent public pronouncements, as documented by The Middle East Media Research Institute:
In a speech on January 21 at the Parliamentary Union of Islamic Countries in Istanbul, Erdogan, sounding like an ISIS leader rather than President of a NATO member state, urged Muslim countries to “unite and defeat the successors of Lawrence of Arabia who seek to disrupt the Middle East.” He went on to accuse the West of plotting against the Islamic world and causing Muslims to kill one another.
During his recent visit to Djibouti, Erdogan boasted: “Turkey is a powerful country. If you [European Union] still see Turkey as a country that would beg at your [EU’s] door, Turkey is not a country to beg.” In response to earlier European criticism of media crackdowns in Turkey, Erdogan told EU leaders to “keep your insights to yourselves,” and added: “Take the trouble to come to Turkey, so that Turkey can teach you a lesson in democracy.”
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus, while accompanying Erdogan on his African trip, shamelessly played the race card, telling the locals: “For the first time since the Ottomans left, Africans are seeing a white hand that does not exploit, enslave or punch them in their heads; a white hand that does not exploit their mines, eliminate their values, assimilate them or see them as subhuman. They are seeing the white hand of Turkey, which sees them as equals and as brothers…. We are trying to help the rebirth of these black-skinned but warm-hearted people.” Kurtulmus was probably hoping that his African listeners would be unaware that Erdogan frequently uses the derogatory and racist term ‘zenci’(black) to describe lower class people!
Not to be outdone by Erdogan and Kurtulmus in arrogance or religious fanaticism, Prime Minister Davutoglu told a large Turkish gathering in Zurich last month: “Islam is Europe’s indigenous religion, and will continue to be so. Despite the roadblocks, prejudices and many provocations, Turkey will continue to walk on the road to EU membership…. With Allah’s grace, we will never bow our heads. We are the grandchildren of the heroes who fought at Gallipoli, who never bowed their heads. In 2002, when we came to power, they [EU] said that Turkey was too poor, too weak a country that would become a burden on Europe. Thank Allah, today Turkey is the rising power of the world…. We are not a burden for Europe. Turkey is the cure for Europe! Turkey is the cure for their disease of racism. We are the cure to their economic slowdown. We are the cure to their loss of power…. From Andalusia [Spain] to the Ottomans, and, half a century ago with the holy march of our people who came here from every corner of Anatolia, the sound of the azan [Muslim call to prayer] brought these heroes to Europe. The domes of the mosques with which they dotted this continent will be protected; we will continue to fight against the hands that reach out to harm them. I kiss the foreheads of my brothers who carried the Tekbir [the prayer call ‘Allahu Akbar’] to Zurich…. How holy those people were who came and sowed the seeds here which will, with Allah’s help, continue to grow into a huge tree of justice in the center of Europe. No one will be able to stop this!”
Davutoglu persisted in making absurd and arrogant statements last week, this time in Ankara, telling minority representatives: “We will teach a lesson to racists in Europe.”